Heartworm disease

If you decide to take your dog with you on your vacation, it is very important that you approach your veterinarian, not only for him or her to issue you a travel certificate (if necessary), but also to inform you about the preventive medicine that your dog requires in order not to get sick from infections endemic to your destination.


Canine Dirofilariasis

One of these diseases is canine dirofilariasis, also known as heartworm disease. It is caused by the nematode Dirofilaria immitis which causes dog's heart to be filled with this parasite in its larval form. That is to say the heart of the dog becomes filled with worms.


This disease is common in the temperate zones of the north and south, in the tropics, and in the subtropics and is transmitted by more than 60 species of mosquitoes.


Transmission


If your dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying the disease and is not protected against such infection or is not treated as soon as possible, it is estimated that only about 2 to 3 months later, the parasite (in the form of a worm) already resides in the pulmonary arteries and even the right ventricle (hence the nickname, heartworm disease). This causes primary damage in the pulmonary arteries and in the lung itself, and in some cases even death.


Symptoms


Symptoms that are not always clearly present (It is usually a silent disease) are: fatigue, cough, anorexia, weight loss, nosebleeds, fainting.


Treatment


Luckily there is a wide variety of products on the market that protect our dog from infection. Today with a simple monthly pill, our dogs can be protected from internal and external parasites.


You should not give preventive treatment if your dog was at risk of infection, since it is necessary to first test them to know if he or she is already infected. If so, then treatment will be started immediately.


If your dog contracts the disease, once the veterinarian has determined that your dog is stable and ready to treat the heartworm, they will recommend a treatment protocol that involves several steps. The American Heartworm Society has guidelines for the development of this plan of attack.


Important points


* Preventive medicine is a vital tool in the health of our patients, above all else.


* If you travel outside of Mexico City, it is important that your dog not only be well vaccinated; it must also be properly protected against internal and external parasites


* No one wants to hear that your dog has the heart worm, but the good news is that most infected dogs can be treated successfully

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